Sligo 8 :: Galwegians 24
Sligo’s 1st team came away from Glenina pointless on Sunday last when they were comprehensively defeated by a very strong and impressive Galwegians side in Round 2 of the Connacht Junior 1 League.
After some torrential morning rain, the game was played on a very heavy pitch. However, climatic conditions improved prior to kick-off, and the players only had to contend with a strong cross-wind, which favoured neither side. Sligo looked impressive in the early stages and led by 5-0 after five minutes. Indeed they probably should have scored a try after 3 minutes. This followed a flowing move which put full-back, Roger Burrows away, but the Kiwi threw a wayward pass to winger Thomas Darcel, which ended in touch, rather than back himself 5 metres from the line, and the opportunity was lost.
Galwegians’ reprieve was short lived, as Sligo scored a smashing try after 5 minutes. On this occasion swift and adept handling involving centre, Cathal Culhane and winger Mark Boland created the opening for outside centre, Stuart Dorran to glide through the gap and he touched down near the corner. This score buoyed up Sligo, and when Galwegians attacked on the Sligo ’22; their No. 10, Tim Fletcher was well and truly dumped by a crunching Gavin Foley tackle, which resulted in a turnover and a fine Billy Leahy clearance to put Sligo back on the offensive.
Galwegians came more and more into the game, and worryingly for Sligo, their pack started to assume dominance in the mauls and rucks. Sligo were finding it difficult to get out of their own half, but to their credit their defensive line held firm. In the 22nd. minute the inevitable happened. The Sligo pack had done well to withstand a series of pick and drives from the opposition eight, but when the ball was popped, a missed tackle gave Galwegians’ No. 10, Fletcher the easiest of run ins beside the posts, and centre Conal O’Frigheall slotted the simple conversion. This score ignited Galwegians and for the remainder of the half they laid siege to the Sligo line. To their credit, Sligo defended valiantly, but it was ominous that they could not make any further incursions into Galwegian territory.
Just 3 minutes before the break, Galwegians scored again. On this occasion, following continuous pressure close to the line, scrum-half, Tommy Ellard, an ex- UL-Bohs. A.I.L. player, darted over for a try to give his side a 12-5 interval lead.
Galwegians resumed with Eamonn Molloy, who scored the winning drop goal for his team against St. Mary’s in the A.I.L. Division 1, a mere 24 hours previously, at out-half. While this may have perplexed the Sligo spectators, Molloy’s presence added to the Galwegians’ arsenal.
Sligo were soon back on the defensive, and following a maul near their own line, in the 11th. minute, Sligo’s Adrian McHale was adjudged by referee Dr. Peter McCarthy to have caused a collapse and was harshly sin binned. To add to Sligo’s woes, Galwegians opted for a scrum from the resultant penalty, and scored a push over try against the 7 Sligo forwards.
Despite now trailing by 17-5, Sligo rallied. In the 18th. minute Stuart Dorran converted a penalty from 20 metres to reduce the deficit to 17-8. Sligo had another chance to further reduce arrears in the 20th. minute, when they were awarded a penalty for a blatant late and dangerous tackle on winger, Thomas Darcel, which certainly merited a card, but Stuart Dorran was wide from the 30 metres kick. They almost had a try in the 27th. minute, but Burrows’ pass to Darcel, with the line at his mercy, was called forward by the referee.
Galwegians came upfield and following a penalty to the corner, the ball was superbly robbed by the returned McHale, and he carried the ball out to the ’22’. Sligo pressed forward and it seemed possible that they might yet salvage a bonus point from their efforts. Unfortunately, a missed first up tackle on half way created the winners with another opening, and centre O’Frigheall gladly availed of the gift wrapped opportunity to score, with Molloy emulating his achievement of the previous day of notching the final score of the game, when he landed the conversion.
Sligo battled bravely, and their best work was done in defence. On this occasion, their pack was outgunned by a superior force so the backs had to survive on a starvation ration. Despite this meagre possession Sligo managed to prise open the winners defence on a few occasions, but they lacked the finishing power to punish Galwegians.
Playing Galwegians away at this stage of the season, where all their players have aspirations of breaking into their A.I.L. Division 1 squad, was a very unfortunate draw for Sligo, as Ballina who lost by over 30 points at home to the same opposition last week will testify, so Sligo can only hope that Galwegians will field as strong and as committed a side for their entire league campaign, to ensure a level playing pitch for all the junior clubs in the province.
Sligo: R. Burrows, M. Boland, S. Dorran, C. Culhane, T. Darcel, G. Foley, B. Leahy, R. Gillespie, R. O’Boyle, A. McHale, P. Mullan, A. Williams, S. Coulter, J. Livingstone [c.], J. Sweeney. Subs: J. Kelly for S.Coulter, R. Ongirski for R. Burrows, T. Sweeney for R. O’Boyle.
Galwegians: M. McElarnan, A. O’Reilly, C. O’Frigheall, P. Walsh, E. Dowling, T. Fletcher, T. Ellard, J. Naughton, R. Fitzgerald, D. McHugh, K. Gootche, B. McLaron, J. Corcoran, R. Dodd, S. Muzouk. Subs: S. Perkin for M. McElarnan, E. Molloy for E. Dowling.
Referee: Dr. Peter McCarthy [U.C.G.]